1 Thessalonians 1

Carve the very nature, the very heart of Jesus into me, Lord.

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A FAITH LIVED OUT IS A FAITH SPOKEN ABOUT.

Paul’s visit to Thessalonica was a rather “exciting” one (Acts 17:1-9); not as productive as other places he’d visited; but it sure held a lot of activity.  He spent three days reasoning “with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.”  Some were persuaded to follow, both Jews and non-Jews; yet others stirred up such havoc that Paul and his companions had to secretly slip away.

As Your church in Thessalonica grew, Father, news of their faith was spread far and wide.  Here in this passage, You reveal the joys and results, or fruit, of faithfully making disciples as we go.

JOY FOR THE DISCIPLE-MAKER (v 2-5 NIV)

GRATITUDE: “We always thank God for all of you … “ (v 2 NIV)

Leading others into a closer relationship with You brings along times of sweet fellowship with one another.  Human hearts become acquainted through the bond only You can create, Father.  Our hearts are blessed by one another’s company and well up with gratitude for Your blessings poured out back and forth, from one vessel then another.

REFLECTION: “We continually remember before our God …” (v 3 NIV)

Paul could see (in those You had used him to teach) lives that had become characterized by faith that produced work, love that prompted labor, and hope that inspired endurance, as each one served Your kingdom, anticipating Your return.

AFFIRMATION“… We know… He has chosen you…” (v 4-5 NIV)

Because of the way the Thessalonians received Paul’s message to them, he recognized that God had been preparing them for his visit and had made their hearts open to hear the message.  “It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put His hand on you for something special.” (v 4 MSG)

FRUIT FROM THE DISCIPLE (V 6-10)

IMITATORS“You became imitators of us and of the Lord … “ (v 6 NIV)

I want to see the very footprints You’ve left behind and to step right into each one, Jesus.  Wherever You go, take me with You.  Let me see You in action, and help me to be like You.

GREETERS“You welcomed the message with joy …” (v 6 NIV)

No matter what trials may surround me, may I throw open the door of my heart to welcome You in, so that You can bring whatever message my mind needs to hear.  Your Word keeps my mind focused on Your Son, so that my heart stays in line as well.

MODELS“You became a model to all the believers …” (v 7 NIV)

May my life be one that, when imitated, allows the one following to also imitate YOU.  I want to be just like You, Jesus, when others want to be just like me.

BILLBOARDS“…Your faith in God has become known everywhere …” (v 8 NIV)

May my life echo Your Words, Lord. Clean out the stuff that’s “me” and replace it with what’s “You.”  Shape my faith into the kind that spurs others on when they hear of it.  (Some days, I know I’m far from THAT.  Just keep working on me, Daddy.)

EXAMPLES “You turned to God from idols …” (v 9-10 NIV)

May the things of this world which tempt me to give them allegiance receive none of my attention.  Instead, turn my energy and focus toward the same two aims of the Thessalonians: 1) “to SERVE the living and true God” and 2) “to WAIT for His Son [to return] from heaven.”  Help me to embrace You, Father, and to expectantly await Your Son to come back for me and all Your people.

Thanks for using Paul to relate the aspects of how the Thessalonians set an example of faith in You.  Assist me in imitating them, as they imitated Paul, who imitated You.  Make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

Col 4:7-18

Father, make me more like Jesus.

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Father, You’ve said elsewhere in Your Word through Paul,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)

Here in his letter to the Colossians, he actually acts out what You’d led him to write in the letter to the Corinthians.  He shares about the various people in his life at that time who’ve been a support and comfort for him, especially while he was in prison.  Then, he sends some of the people and greetings from others in order to encourage, strengthen and comfort the portion of Your Church in Colosse.  Here’s how Paul related to his friends.  He was . . .

AFFIRMING OF THEM

How dear Paul’s friends had become!  You had given him an enormous and priceless treasure in each one.  The way in which he describes them causes me to reflect on the treasures You’ve revealed through the people You’ve placed in my life over the years:  “a dear brother,” “a faithful minister,” “fellow servant in the Lord,”  “faithful and dear brother,” “one of you,” “fellow prisoner,” “have proved a comfort to me,” “servant of Christ Jesus,” “always wrestling in prayer for you,” “working hard for you,” and “our dear friend.”  Through his words, he was able to be AFFIRMING of them, pointing out to others how You were using their lives to touch another.

THANKFUL FOR THEM

This entire portion of the letter to the Colossians has an aroma of gratitude, as it becomes very evident that Paul is THANKFUL for them.  They were “dear” to him, folks he cherished, especially in the gift of knowing them.  He considered them “faithful,” or people he knew he could count on.  He enjoyed their company as “fellow” whatever, be it “servant,” “prisoners,” or “workers.”  Paul knew and expressed how blessed he’d been by the gifts of these friends You’d supplied.

GENEROUS WITH THEM

In addition, when it came to his friends, Paul was GENEROUS with them.  He shared them with others in Your kingdom, like the Colossians.  He sent them out for purposes like “that you may know about our circumstances” and “that he may encourage Your hearts.”  He encouraged the Colossians by letting them know that one of his friends was “always wrestling in prayer for” them–with the aim that they might “stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”  (Father, remind me to pray those things for those who are dear to me!)

Father, indeed You have blessed my life with soooooooo MANY people who have been used by You in my life–much in the same ways You used these folks in Paul’s life, and some even more!  In my friendship with these people-blessings, may I be AFFIRMING of them, THANKFUL for them and GENEROUS with them.

Thanks for Paul’s example and for the reflection of Your heart in his.  Make it so others can see Jesus in me when they look at me too.  Amen.